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Internet Predators: 5 Facts Parents Need to Know

Last Updated: October 26, 2020

Matt Fradd
Matt Fradd

Matt Fradd is the author of Delivered: True Stories of Men and Woman Who Turned from Porn to Purity. After experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matt has worked through full-time lay ministry in Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Texas. He has served as an apologist for Catholic Answers and has traveled all over the world, speaking to tens of thousands of teens and young adults. He and his wife Cameron have four children and live in North Georgia.

Since the dawn of the World Wide Web, the Internet has been used for all kinds of purposes, some for good and some for evil. Among the most heinous of Internet crimes is that of predation, which is using the medium of the Internet to communicate with those you intend to physically or sexually abuse.

Now, the good news is that while Internet predators are real and numerous, parents don’t need to react in fear. The Crimes Against Children Research Center has done a couple waves of research about sexual offenses against minors that stared as online encounters, and here 5 key stats they found:

  1.  Very rarely do sexual predation cases involve violence or abduction. Only in 5% of cases is violence or the threat of violence used, and only 3% of cases involve classic scenarios of kidnapping. In most cases, victims choose to go somewhere with their offender. In fact, in 73% of cases, victims willingly meet with their offender on more than one occasion. Now, these are still instances of statutory rape and psychological manipulation, but in the vast majority of cases, abduction is not the primary danger.
  2. 75% of victims are ages 13 to 15. Very rarely are victims younger than this. And most victims, actually 61% of victims, do not come from broken hones, but rather are still living with both their biological parents.
  3. Most victims, about 64%, speak with a predator online for at least one month before meeting face to face with them.
  4. In the vast majority of cases, offenders do not try to pass themselves off as minors: 95% of cases involve grown adult men who tell these kids they are adults. About a quarter of them will shave off a few years on their age, but they still communicate they are adults to the victims.
  5. Most offenders, about 80%, bring up sexual topics with their victims online, and only in 21% of cases do offenders lie about their sexual intentions.

So, to summarize, the picture this paints of the typical sexual predator scenario is a young teen girl or sometimes boy who is going online, talking to strangers, engaging in sexual conversations with mostly adult men they know are adult men. These are cases of criminal seductions, men who are taking advantage of common teenage vulnerabilities where they play on teens’ desires for understanding, romance, adventure, and sexual information. This process of luring in these teens is called grooming, and it is a serious and deviant crime.

The good news is that every day millions of teens get online and don’t fall into these kinds of traps. A basic first line of defense is teaching kids caution about strangers they meet online. Be firm about not allowing kids to engage in sexual discussions online or use the Internet to portray a sexy image. A lot of kids get in trouble sending or posting provocative photos online.This can not only destroy their reputations later on, but the photos can even be used by others to blackmail them or mark them as a target for predators.

Please don’t misunderstand me here: the blame for predation lies squarely on the shoulders of the men who would dare use the Internet as a means to prey on young girls and boys. However, as parents, we should do all in our power to infuse our kids with the confidence they need so they don’t search the Internet looking to fill their void left by deep insecurities.

  • Comments on: Internet Predators: 5 Facts Parents Need to Know
    1. I have experience with this.

      Well, seeing as though I live in North Georgia where Matt lives and was involved in one of these cases, I can assure you that what he wrote in this article is not the case.

      I right now know a man set up in an internet sting. He was set up by two women who literally were thousands of miles away from the sting site. In fact, the women who were in the sting conducted by law enforcement in that case, where connected to fraud in the state of California, New Mexico, Oregon, Nevada. Also, the organization they worked for is no longer in business because its founder embezzled over 5 million dollars from the organization. The man and two women and their actions led to the deaths of several men for crimes that never happened and against people who never existed in the first place. I personally know one of the men arrested in North Georgia and his book will be coming out shortly. It will be eye opening and will implicate many people and it should — because those people set up others for profit and it led to death. They also altered chat logs and a litany of other things.

      We must always ask the fundamental question: do victims ever consent, invite, and pursue? In internet stings, the victims consent to everything, invite their attackers, and pursue them —- from the safety and comfort of their own homes and for PROFIT. No one ever puts a gun to a person’s head on the internet. In may ways, it is the ultimate form of consent. In the case I worked on, the imaginary victim invited one of the guys eight different times, pursued him for a year, and pursued him after he said no to the first meeting in Fortson, GA. You know why? Money. They were trying to get a TV show shot in the state. They were setting up men for profit and to be on TV.

      But what do you expect from decoys who were making money to set up others and who were connected to fraud through out our nation? Remember this — victims must be real and no real victim in this world consents, invites, and pursues. Victims also do not get paid by organizations to set people up so that a TV show can be made.

      • "D"

        Wow, that’s a shame some would try to profit on something so serious. I’m a little on the fence as far as those that got “stung”….why were they looking or talking to these folks in the first place? Just wondering….not trying to be confrontational.

    2. My wife and I are becoming increasing worried about the state of our society and world. It seemed like the previous generation did not have certain dangers and challenges like we have today.

      Thank you for quoting some of these statistics. It is a sober reminder of our responsibility as parents to protect our children and to pray that God will be gracious and merciful to protect our children and the children in today’s society.

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